Mobility is a feature of American life. People move in search of jobs, new opportunities, or better weather. There is individual mobility and there are migration patterns. The constant flow of migrants shapes our economic topography. Regions rise and fall based on economic fortune. When large numbers of people move exit, they may be following opportunity, escaping the lack of it, or fleeing crisis and decline.
That is why this week’s release of this study by Wendell Cox and E.J. McMahon of The Empire Center is so striking. The authors calculate U.S. migration patterns between 2000 and 2008. New York, on net, lost over 1.5 million people. California lost 1.3 million. Illinois lost over half a million. Michigan and New Jersey round out the top five each losing over 400,000 people.
What might explain these en masse shifts? The strongest contender is fiscal policies that compete with a Category Five Hurricane. High taxes and housing costs, regulations and the growth of government at all levels in New York, California, and New Jersey have bankrupted these states not only of their revenues, but of their most valuable asset – their people.